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Appalachian Wildlife Refuge: Public Voting Open for Defender Awards

Wildlife rehabilitator Nancy Vergara releases rehabbed Sharpie back to its home. Photo by Stephanie Smith

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge has been named a finalist in the Animal, Wildlife, and Marine Mammal Welfare category in the third annual Defender Service Awards presented by CHASE. The awards recognize 25 U.S. nonprofits and Canadian registered charities that make a positive impact in their local communities and embody the ethos of Defender as a beacon of liberty.

Six organizations will be ultimately be chosen as winners based on public vote and will be awarded a custom Defender 130 and $25,000 from category sponsors, including Hearts & Science, PELICAN, OUTSIDE Interactive, Inc., ei3 and ANIMAL PLANET. With seating for up to eight volunteers, the Defender 130 will further empower these organizations on their service missions.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife so that they not only survive but can also be released back into their natural habitats and thrive. The facility has only been open since 2018, yet it has become a pillar in the community by providing care for more than 6,000 wild patients thus far.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge leaders entered the Defender Service Awards competition because the organization needs an official “wildlife ambulance” to reach more animals in need all over the mountainous terrain of western North Carolina.

Public voting is open through October 4 and will determine the winning organizations. Participants may vote for Appalachian Wildlife Refuge once per day through the deadline at

The winners of the 2023 Defender Service Awards will be announced on November 11.

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